Project Description: _ SUPPORTING ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN IN LIRA SUBCOUNTY, LIRA DISTRICT
This project will provide a comprehensive supportive environment to meet the physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of orphans and vulnerable children and provide support for care takers with parenting and communication skills.
One of the objectives of the project is to encourage, promote, and assist in the socio-economic development of the orphans and vulnerable children by identifying them, mobilizing and settling them in known centers or families and give them hope to survive and facilitate their development.
The project is especially intended to address the problems of orphans and vulnerable children in Lira District especially in terms of education and health needs. HIV/AIDS scourge in this village has increased the number of orphans and disadvantaged children and their condition of living is worsening. The major goal of this project is to help disadvantaged children get an opportunity to study for self-sustenance so as to reduce the burden of dependence on the community they live.
Another purpose of this project is to create a network of young people of the age range of 15- 17 years living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Lira District. Shame, secrecy, fear and social isolation are commonly experienced by young people infected by HIV/AIDS. A supportive group of similar PLWHA can provide a venue for openly discussing their situation and, with the guidance of a trained facilitator, focusing their efforts on improved self-care and, hopefully, reaching out to others with a message of HIV/AIDS prevention and control.
The purpose of this program is to reduce the suffering of young people livingwith HIV/AIDS, build their capacity through giving them love, care, education and vocational skills that can help them to generate income so that they become productive and self-reliant members of the society.
NEED FOR THE PROJECT
For twenty five years insecurity in Northern Uganda has disrupted the provision of basic social services and family lives leading to proliferation of Internally Displaced Persons. This has led to breakdown of cultural, traditional and moral values and support structures as well as a dramatic increase in the number orphans and vulnerable children, women and child-headed households.
In addition, violence inflicted on individuals and communities has created psychological problems that have caused behavioral changes thus increasing the likelihood of acquiring HIV/AIDS and rampant death from the pandemic.
One of the major concerns, which go with HIV/AIDS is the impact the disease has on the individualsandtheirfamilies,aswellasontheirextendedfamilyandcommunityatlarge.While suchimpactcanbeanalyzedfromvariouslevels,theinterestover theyearsfocusedonthe economic implications of thisdiseaseonthehousehold level.
Further,theimpactofHIV/AIDSonthehouseholdiswellreflectedinthecircleofpovertyitputs the familyinto:unlikeinheavyindustrializedcountries wheresuchcases placea heavyburden on thesocialsecuritysystem,themajorityof the familiesindevelopingcountriesincluding Uganda are notcoveredwithany socialsecurity system, hencethey havetocopewith fullimpactof the disease. As aconsequence, theresidualassets of theaffectedfamilies are wipedoutpushing them deeperanddeeperintopoverty.
The most discouraging aspect of the AIDS pandemic is the trail of misery it leaves behind, once the bread winner dies. The problems experienced by orphans following the death of their parents vary from one orphan to another but the most striking ones include lack of: adequate food; clothing and shelter; psychological care and support; education attention and health care services.
Many children who are orphaned are forced to live on the streets or under exploitive conditions of labor and sexual abuse. Some of these children are infected with HIV especially through defilement. Many live in child-headed households where they have to work for themselves and support their younger siblings. In Lira District there are so many children who have no proper homes. They are seen loitering around shops, markets, bus parks and in residential quarters looking for petty jobs to get something to eat. Orphans and vulnerable children are commonly known here as “Otin Corridor” (Corridor Children) The name is derived from the fact that these children are commonly seen in narrow corners between shop corridors in town thus the name corridor.
Their problems include nowhere to live, poor housing, inadequate health facilities, malnutrition, and vulnerability of girl children, girl child mothers. Therefore there is a need for projects that can help to solve the above mentioned community problems and needs.
The child-headed household trend in Uganda is such that rural areas have 79.9%, of which 49.6% are male-headed and 30.3% are female-headed. The trend in urban areas is that of the 20% child-headed households, 10.5% are male-headed whereas 9.6% are female-headed
(Uganda Bureau of Statistics-UBOS, 2000).
Uganda currently has over 2 million orphaned children, the majority of whom were orphaned by HIV/AIDS (Uganda Poverty Status Report, 2003). The number is expected to rise in the next decade and this will increase the risk of more children turning to the streets, and becoming beggars, drug addicts, prostitutes and thieves.
Therefore, incorporating vocational skills training into the education plan for orphans and people living with HIV/AIDS would directly meet their needs. Studies have shown that extreme poverty is something that most orphaned children experience. Orphans with knowledge of certain trade are able to get a job and earn money for their families. Community based initiatives to teach children vocational skills can be both successful for the orphans as well as cost effective for the community. Thus introducing vocational training and apprenticeships for the orphans becomes a pathway to development as well as protection from risky behaviors.
The sponsoring of some orphans for vocational training is our contribution to income generation through employment, entrepreneurship opportunities and improvement in the livelihood of the orphans and vulnerable children in Lira District, Northern Uganda.
HOW THE OVC WILL BENEFIT FORM THE PROJECT ESPECAILLY THOSE AFFECTED BY HIV/AIDS AND ORPHANS
The orphans and vulnerable children will gain from six types of services to the families enrolled in the program:
We provide natural health supplements and remedies to children and their guardians, as well as providing medical attention from a dispensary or hospital. We insist upon and support guardians to care for the child or children in their care.
Primary & Secondary School: The program provides school fees paid directly to the school through the school bank account, uniforms, shoes and school bags for a child in primary or secondary school.
Vocational Training: The young adults below 18 years selected and sponsored for vocational training and they will be provided with equipment and tools necessary for their respective trades.
Primary and secondary age children will receive maize and beans every month for their entire family. We also provide cooking oil, salt and sugar. Those staying at the centre will receive balanced diet meals.
The following items will be distributed: mattresses, bed sheet and mosquito nets for each child. This support is provided depending on the condition of the home.
It is very important that caretakers are aware of the HIV status of the children in their care. If a child’s parents have died ofAIDS, the child should receive testing for HIV, and counseling along with the caregiver, if this has not beendone in the past.
What can caretakers do to helpchildren who are HIV-positive?
? Try to ensure good nutrition
? Educate the child and family about good hygiene
? Help to arrange or refer for medicalcare for child in case of fever, diarrhea, cough, rashes, or mouth sores
? Help to arrange or refer for medical care for ARV treatment
? Work with caretakers and community to understand facts about HIV transmission
? Work with caretakers and community to encourage support of all children and combat stigmatization
? Help the family obtain information about resources available for caring for children with HIV
? Brainstorm with the family ways to overcome obstacles to using medical resources that may be available, such as transportation scheduling, transport costs, costs of drugs or medications, adherence to ARV treatment
- To support orphans /homes and guardians of the OVCs, animals like cows, goats, pigs will be provided. Mosquito nets will be provided to needy homes.
STEPS TAKEN ALREADY
The following have been achieved so far:
a) The local community has been sensitized and mobilized to participate in giving assistance in terms of labour, donations of foodstuff and scholastic materials to the orphans.
b) We have recruited two social workers to assist with these project activities in the Village
c) A criterion was developed for selecting orphans and other vulnerable children with the help of the community and the Local leaders.
d) A place has been rented in town where an internet café is being run and secretarial services are being provided as one of the sources of income generating activities for raising fund to help the OVC.
e) A counselor has trained three volunteers from the village in how to conduct care taker meetings. During these meetings care takers share problems they are facing in their household. The parents get beside problem sharing also information on: child rights, different problematic behaviors and learning problems, serious challenges children are facing like: grief, trauma, child abuse, HIV/AIDS, recognizing resilience in children and how to listen to children. After a few meetings care taker groups will be formed.
f) The OVC committee is trained in forming Income Generating Activities (IGA). The IGA is on tree nursery and vegetables. The income will be for the families with orphans and vulnerable children to support them on sending children to school and buy food and school materials.
The community leaders and volunteers have participated in identifying and selecting the orphans and vulnerable children.
They have participated in planning for this project by selecting the most viable skills to impart to the OVC in order for them to embark immediately on income generating activities.
The community has donated land for planting seedlings and a house to be used as an office.
Many of the individuals participating in this program are responsible for the design and maintenance of the gardens and seedlings. They also participate in growing vegetables for sale and for feeding the children and the guardians.
In addition to participation in the maintenance of seedlings, families enrolled in this program are eligible to receive support and supplies including tools, trees and seeds, to create gardens at their homes to assist them in raising income to maintain themselves.
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